By David Van Horn, a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member

My father, James Van Horn, was a very quiet man. I have no memory of ever having that one-on-one talk between father and son, as you see being depicted in the Hallmark-type movies. I do, however, have many memories of him setting the perfect example of what your fellow man should be doing on a daily basis.

On May 12, 1970, my grandfather, William Van Horn, died of a heart attack. I was 12 years old, the third in line of seven grandchildren. Dad was devastated at the loss of his father.

Two days later, May 14, Mom, Dad, and seven kids loaded up the station wagon and we were on the way to the funeral home when, two blocks away from our home, dad suddenly stopped the car. He got out of the car, walked to a newspaper box, put in a shiny dime, and took out one paper. He closed the box and repeated the process. We asked Mom what he was doing. She responded with, “I’m not sure, but whatever it is, it is important to him.” He did this seven more times, dropping a dime in the box each time. He came back to the car with nine newspapers.

Mom asked, “What are you going to do with all those newspapers?” He responded with, “I wanted you and each of the kids to have a copy of Dad’s obituary listed in the Indianapolis Star.“

I remember saying, “Why didn’t you just drop one dime and take nine papers?” He responded with, “That box is part of a man’s business. If I did that, I would be stealing from a man. Always do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do. If you live by this rule, the walk on the road of life will always be a much smoother one.”

I remember it like it was yesterday. Yes, I was only 12 years old, but it stuck, and it made a terrific impact on my life. Today, I am 65 years old and have always done my best to do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.

I just finished my 28th year of teaching, 23 in Indianapolis and five in Walkerville, Michigan. For 28 years, my classroom motto has been those prophetic words that were spoken to me by my father 53 years ago, “Do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.”
My father was a quiet man, but his actions always spoke louder than any words he could ever have spoken. James Van Horn was a great example to anyone who may have been watching.

Still today, students reach out to me, and make mention of the words I taught them years ago and say thank you for making the walk on the road of life a much more enjoyable one. I remind them to thank James Van Horn, my father.

About the author: David is an elementary teacher at Walkerville Public Schools. He taught for 23 years in Indianapolis, retired and moved to Bitely, Michigan. He got bored and went back to the classroom. He enjoys the outdoors——fishing, hunting, canoeing, kayaking, boating, riding his side by side, and much more. Spending time with his grandkids is the best.